How Often Should I Trim My Dog’s Nails? Pics and Tips For Owners

I’ve worked with dogs for over 30 years and I’ve done thousands of nail trims over that time. Unlike the average dog owner, I really enjoy the process. If you’re here reading this article, I’m going to share with you my secrets about dog nails.

How often should you trim your dog’s nails? Once monthly for maintaining them at their current length. Weekly if you want to work on getting them shorter.

What If I’m Too Scared To Do My Dog’s Nails?

That’s okay – most people are. If you’re too scared because you don’t think you have the eyes or hands for it or your dog is too rambunctious, just have someone else do it.

How Do I Know How Short To Cut The Nails?

  • If you’re scared, just cut the tips off. That helps a great deal. Just do that whenever the nails seem sharp or you can hear the nails clicking on the floor.
  • On white nails, the pink part of the nail is the blood vessel (aka the “quick”). At the point where you can see it stop inside the nail, cut the nail roughly halfway between the tip of the nail and that end of the quick.
  • See the following pics:
Partway Through The Nail – Notice How It’s All White On The Edge

When You Should Stop Trimming:

The Quick Is Now Visible As The Center Pink Spot – Stop Now
  • Black Nails are even more obvious as to how much to cut. The inner layer of the black nail is actually white. As the quick becomes more evident, a center black dot will appear. The below picture, despite being a bit out of focus on the nail, is a great example of when to stop a nail trim on a black nail.

What If I Cut My Dog’s Nails Too Short?

This happens all the time even to the most experienced nail trimming professionals. I’ve done thousands of nail trims and still will quick a dog’s nails from time to time. Just look at the yellow powder in the pic above as evidence of that.

When the nail does bleed, you can apply a commercial styptic product like Qwik-stop directly to the bleeding area. If you don’t have any available, flour or cornmeal works just as well. You may need to pack quite a bit on there to get the bleeding to stop depending on how short you cut it.

Still can’t get it to stop? You can always take them outside and let them walk/run around for a few minutes to see if that helps. Worst case scenario is that the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15-20 minutes – call your vet. You may need their help to get the bleeding to stop. This is a pretty rare case but I have seen this happen a few times.

Why Are My Dog’s Nails So Long?

In a modern world, most dogs end up spending significant time on a comfy bed or couch (that’s how my house of 6 dog is). They’re not constantly running around on hard ground or concrete and naturally wearing those nails down.

It’s up to the dog owner/caretaker to keep the nails to a manageable level. That’s going to require some intervention just like you would with a small child or baby.

Can I Use A Dremel Or Rotary Tool On My Dog’s Nails?

Of course! If you can get your dog used to using one of these instruments then you may never need to trim their nails. However, I usually recommend cutting the nail first and then using the dremel to smooth out any sharp edges.

There are, of course, plenty of dogs who still won’t let you do their nails this way.

Why Does My Dog Hate To Have Its Nails Done?

Much of the anxiety a dog has with nail trimmings stems from losing control over a situation. Their paws are pretty important to them and they can be very sensitive to being touched there (think about how some people hate to have their feet touched).

Tips To Get Your Dog Used To Having Their Nails Done

  • Start young when possible. The sooner your dog is comfortable with you handling its feet, the better.
  • Stay relaxed when you are doing the nail trim. Sometimes the trimmer doesn’t realize just how hard their are squeezing the paw.
  • Use trimmers that are comfortable to you.
  • Do the same exact routine each time you do the nails. For my “difficult” nail trims, I find it easier to do their nails if I maintain the exact same routine with them when I do their nails.
  • Don’t hesitate to put a muzzle on your dog for a nail trim if you think you need it. Muzzles can be calming for some dogs and may make the situation easier.